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Gates Foundation

Odds are you've heard measles mentioned in the news recently. And what they say is true: Cases are on the rise. The maps don't lie.

Here's what measles looked like 5 years ago:


Fast forward to today:

Some blame it all on poor herd immunity.

Herd immunity ... what?! It's a term that has been floating around a lot lately. It's basically when large percentages of a community have become immune to a contagious disease through a vaccination. Because they are immune, there is little opportunity for an outbreak, and they are able to protect the people around them who are unable to safely receive the vaccination.

So when a person doesn't get vaccinated against a disease — but could — it can weaken the “herd" and look something like this:

Situation 1: No one is immunized. Contagious disease spreads through the population.

Situation 2: Some of the population gets immunized. Contagious disease spreads through some of the population.

Situation 3: Most of the population gets immunized. Spread of contagious disease is contained.

Rhett Krawitt isn't vaccinated.

In California, 7-year-old Rhett Krawitt is at risk of turning from blue to red on that chart above. It's not because he doesn't want to be vaccinated — it's because his immune system is too weak to handle it (thanks for absolutely nothing, leukemia). So he and his family must rely on the people around him to stay healthy until his body is strong enough to handle vaccines. There are hundreds of other kids just like him.

But more and more parents are deciding to not vaccinate their kids these days, for a number of reasons. And depending on the state they live in, that's legally OK. But if people are getting sick because of it ... well, then that seems like it'd cause some problems.

It comes down to the question: Should parents be required to vaccinate their kids?

Right now, it all depends where you live.

There are two main non-medical ways parents are able to say "no" to getting their kids vaccinated:

  • A religious exemption (48 states allows this)
  • A personal belief exemption (almost half of all states allow this)

It'll be interesting to see what happens to those numbers. So far in 2015, at least 19 states have introduced legislation addressing both of these exemptions. For instance, in California, where Rhett lives, legislators have introduced a measure to end the state's personal belief exemption. In Missouri, a House bill requires that parents be notified if any student at their child's school has not been immunized.

We can all agree: No one wants a sick kid.

But should kids like Rhett be able to dictate the laws for everyone?

Click here to see your state's vaccine laws — and if legislators are trying to change them.

Former President George W. Bush and current president Donald Trump may both be Republicans but they have contrasting views when it comes to immigration.

Trump has been one of the most anti-immigrant presidents of recent memory. His Administration separated undocumented families at the border, placed bans on travelers from majority-Muslim countries, and he's proudly proclaimed, "Our country is full."

George W. Bush's legacy on immigration is a bit more nuanced. He ended catch-and-release and called for heightened security at the U.S.-Mexico border, but he also championed an immigration bill that created a guest worker program and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people.

Unfortunately, that bill did not pass.

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It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

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I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

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Roland Pollard and his 4-year-old daughter Jayden have been doing cheer and tumbling stunts together since Jayden could walk. When you see videos of their skills, the level of commitment is apparent—as is the supportive relationship this daddy has with his daughter.

Pollard, a former competitive cheerleader and cheer coach, told In The Know that he didn't expect Jayden to catch on to her flying skills at age 3, but she did. He said he never pressures her to perform stunts and that she enjoys it. And as a viral video of Jayden almost falling during a stunt shows, excelling at a skill requires good teaching—something Pollard appears to have mastered.

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